City Grill

Will Watson

Will Watson
Senior Vice President
Hoar Construction

Birmingham’s construction industry has stayed busy through the turbulence of the pandemic, says Watson, as firms continue to see work across multiple sectors and focus on diversity initiatives.

“Like many mid-to-large cities in the Sunbelt, Birmingham’s construction scene is thriving,” says Watson.

Most major industry sectors have ongoing projects in the area, he says, and these even include some office buildings in addition to what he notes are the most active sectors in the Birmingham market: health care, multifamily and higher education.

construction starts

For Hoar’s part, work is ongoing at the Buchanan Hall/School of the Arts at Samford University and at two projects at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB): the $76-million Science and Engineering Complex and the $156.7-million UAB Spain Rehabilitation Replacement Hospital.

According to UAB, each of the 11 floors on the Spain Rehabilitation project is designed to treat specific patient populations and to allow patients, families and care team members to remain on the same floor.

The top floor will feature a garden, and the ground level will feature a terrain park to allow recovering patients to practice navigating different terrains like gravel, mulch, turf, sand and paving stones as well as a city street simulation.

The 350,000-sq-ft facility, scheduled to open in 2025, will have 78 rehabilitation beds, 28 acute care beds and technology specifically designed to provide comprehensive rehabilitation care.

“Despite talk of an impending recession ... work is diverse enough to weather these additional trials.”
—Will Watson, Senior Vice President, Hoar Construction

Hoar also has recent or ongoing projects in multifamily, retail, office and manufacturing sectors in the area, including the Buffalo Rock Central Hub Facility in Birmingham.

The Buffalo Rock project, a $75-million investment that includes renovating 835,000 sq ft of warehouse space, an existing 120,000 sq ft office building and a 60-acre site, according to Hoar, will allow Buffalo Rock to double its output with 90 loading docks.

The area is seeing more institutional work than in recent years, Watson says, as the construction industry has remained strong through the pandemic and its supply chain challenges.

“Despite talk of an impending recession, the portfolio of available work is diverse enough to weather these additional trials,” he says.

But one ongoing issue for Hoar has been the labor market, he says, and some project timelines have been pushed back due to financing, but generally, there are multiple opportunities for projects of all types and sizes either starting or on the horizon.

The Palmer

The Palmer, a seven-story apartment complex, is a recent Hoar multifamily project.
Photo courtesy Hoar Construction

An example of the active multi-family sector in Birmingham is The Palmer, a 228-unit apartment building with 1,901 sq ft of ground-level retail, according to Hoar’s website.

Dodge Construction Network forecasts multifamily starts in Birmingham to increase only slightly in 2024 to $127 million following a dip in 2022, though still not climbing to the highs of 2021, which saw $149 million in multifamily starts.

Looking at the local industry, Watson says an emerging trend is a new dedication from firms to encourage diversity internally and bolster participation from minority-owned businesses.

“The biggest change we are seeing is the dedication owners are showing in diversity and inclusion efforts in the industry and increasing requirements for MBE participation on jobs in more than just publicly funded sectors,” he says.